Senior Bella Segovia soars to success as a part of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts

Charlotte DeForrest

Segovia (left) and her troop were a part of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. Photo courtesy of Lisa Linnenkohl.

“Finally [becoming an Eagle Scout] was a great relief. [There] was so much work that we had to cram into two years. It really set in once I finally had my board of review, which is the final decision with the Scout council, that it is finally over. We managed to do it in time, and we’re able to be a part of the inaugural class. The more that time has gone by, though, I’ve noticed how much of an important accomplishment it really is,” senior Bella Segovia said. 

On Feb. 8, 2021, Segovia made history by being part of the first-ever class of female Scouts accepted to the rank of Eagle, the highest level in the Scout BSA (formerly known as Boys Scouts of America) program. 

Segovia was inspired to begin Scouting after watching her older brother, Carl Segovia, participate in the program. Unfortunately, due to the organization’s restrictions, she could never join as an official Scout. Finally, in 2019, the program announced that they would open their program to women and changed their name to Scouts BSA to be more inclusive. 

“I largely started with my brother’s and my family’s support because [sophomore year] is a very late time to start. It was a big decision to make,” Segovia said. “Scouting was always around my family since [my brother] joined when he was in elementary school, and although I couldn’t really participate with him, I had watched him go to campouts and rank up for years.”

To reach the rank of Eagle Scout, Scouts must collect 21 merit badges, take on a leadership role in their troop and direct a large community service project. Since Scouts BSA opened the program to girls in February 2019 and it takes around 19 months to complete the requirements, the first class of women could achieve the rank of Eagle in February 2021. Segovia and her all-female troop made it their goal to become a part of this first-class, giving them only two years to complete the requirements. 

Marin BSA’s Senior District Executive Nancy Rozell is impressed with the girls’ accomplishments and commitment, especially considering their limited timeline. 

“There’s a whole bunch of activities that you have to do over several months [to become an Eagle Scout], and it’s especially hard when you’re in high school; you’ve got a lot of other obligations, so managing these requirements was very challenging,” Rozell said. “It really is an incredible accomplishment. Five percent of Scouts reach the rank of Eagle, so for these girls to hit the ground running the way they did and to do it in such a short period of time is just remarkable.”

One of the biggest challenges Segovia faced while completing the requirements was finishing her community service project. Segovia worked with the Marin Municipal Water District to build a walking bridge on Kent Trail. Due to the Water District’s COVID-19 regulations, organizing the build was difficult. Construction was delayed by a couple of months, and Segovia was only able to have six people working on her project at a time. The shortage of volunteers made carrying the lumber up the trail to the building site especially strenuous and time-consuming. Despite these hurdles, the project was completed in December.

Segovia (right) and her troop only had two years to complete the requirements for Eagle Scout’s rank based on when the program opened up to women. Photo courtesy of Lisa Linnenkohl.

Completing Segovia’s community service project wasn’t the only challenge COVID-19 posed. When the pandemic began, Segovia assumed her role as Senior Patrol Leader, the lead organizer for her troop. But according to her Scoutmaster, Lisa Linnenkohl, Segovia took it all on in stride.

“It was really interesting going from a hands-on Scouting program to doing everything over Zoom. It was a huge challenge, but [Segovia] really rose to the occasion and made our Zoom calls interesting,” Linnenkohl said. “She sticks to [her goals], and she blows me away. She has a lot of perseverance, and it really came through in the program.” 

As the next group of younger Scouts prepares for their acceptance to the rank of Eagle next February, Segovia and Linnenkohl hope that their troop’s accomplishments inspire other Scouts in Marin to accomplish their own goals.

“It’s another glass ceiling being shattered. In the same year that we have our first female vice president, the first group of young women has become Eagle Scouts,” Linnenkohl said. “What I always told the girls was, ‘Being the tip of the spear is not always easy, and it’s not always comfortable, but when you look back, you can see the path that you’ve created for other young women and girls behind you.’ It sends a signal to any girl looking at these Eagle Scouts that they can do it. Anything they set their mind to, they can achieve.”